A step-by-step guide to learning English with songs

Whatever type of music you’re into, learning English with songs will help you improve your listening and speaking skills, vocabulary and pronunciation.

1. Choose a song that’s in English

It can be any song at all. A song that you like, that you’ve listened to several times before. Have you found it? Great! Now …

2. Listen to the song

Do you understand all of the lyrics? 

Probably not! But don’t worry – people hardly ever understand every word of a song the first time they hear it. The words have to fit the rhythm of the music, so they are often difficult to understand. 

3. Read the lyrics

Find the lyrics online. Many music streaming services have a setting where you can listen and read the lyrics at the same time.

Listen to the song again while you read. Now it starts to make a bit more sense!

Make a note of new or interesting words and phrases. You don’t have to look up every single word in the dictionary. Try to learn five to ten new words per song.

4. Notice pronunciation

You may notice some strange-looking words! Some words in songs are written as they are pronounced. 

‘Wanna’, for example, is an informal spelling of ‘want to’. 

What about ‘gonna’ and ‘gimme’? What are these informal spellings of?

As you listen, notice how phrases are pronounced. This really helps you understand people when they’re talking fast.

5. Listen again and join in

As you listen, start to join in with the easier parts. Sing as quietly or as loudly as you want!

The chorus – the part of the song that is repeated several times – will probably be what you can sing along to first.

6. Sing along

Listen to the song a few more times, and each time join in with a little bit more. 

By now the song is really in your head! You’re really feeling the rhythm of the music and the lyrics. 

Tomorrow, next week or whenever you feel like learning a new song, do the same thing again. But don’t forget to come back to the old songs, especially your favourites.

Source: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-levels/improve-your-english-level/power-music-how-learn-english-songs?utm_campaign=english-all-learnenglish-global-newsletters&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=71246861&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9zBsn9PRGm9twSw32xawc2IRwzktX0lZ7xe9VDfleLLK0eZY4T1Tcxo0A4HD5z6-m7OeHaN_YH6LlWileAbj6I0o0tlA&utm_content=71246861&utm_source=hs_email

Shakespeare for kids – Lesson Plans

English Language Day – 23 April

World English Day on 23 April.

World English Day on 23 April is William Shakespeare’s birthday. See our list of resources below to help you introduce Shakespeare into your primary English language classroom.

Resources for the primary classroom

See the lesson plans below for you to use in the classroom with primary learners. Click or tap on the title of each lesson plan to go to the materials.

William Shakespeare for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the life of William Shakespeare and some of his achievements through a short animated video.

Twelfth Night for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night through a short animated video. They will watch the video and complete comprehension activities, and then will be guided to think about and discuss the idea of ‘disguise’ from the play. Finally learners will develop their creative writing skills by imagining and writing about disguising themselves as someone for the day.

Romeo and Juliet for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet through a short animated video. They will watch the video and complete comprehension activities, and then will be guided to think about and discuss the idea of ‘family feuds’ from the play. Finally learners will develop their speaking skills by role playing a situation where two friends have done something mean to each other.

Much Ado About Nothing for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing through a short animated video. They will watch the video and complete comprehension activities, and then will be guided to think about and discuss the idea of ‘deception’ from the play. Finally learners will develop their speaking and writing skills by surveying their classmates about the most important qualities in a friend.

Macbeth for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the Shakespeare play Macbeth through a short animated video. They will watch the video and complete comprehension activities, and then will be guided to think about and discuss the idea of ‘ambition’ from the play. Finally learners will develop their writing skills by thinking and writing about what job they would like to have when they grow up.

Hamlet for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the Shakespeare play Hamlet through a short animated video. They will watch the video and complete comprehension activities, and then will be guided to think about and discuss the ideas of ‘revenge’ and ‘confusion’ from the play. Finally learners will develop their creative writing skills by planning and writing a ghost story.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream for kids

In this lesson plan, learners will be introduced to the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream through a short animated video. They will complete comprehension activities and then think about and discuss the ideas of ‘dreams’ and ‘magic’ from the play, with the teacher’s guidance. Finally learners will develop their creative writing skills by imagining and writing about either a magical dream or a magic potion or spell.

Source: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/news-and-events/top-stories/english-language-day-23-april

Earth Day today!

Let’s celebrate!

Earth Day, which was established in 1970 in the US, is celebrated on 22nd April each year. It is a day to think about our planet and what we can do to keep it special; to think about saving water and energy, reducing pollution, recycling, protecting our animals, trees and plants, and generally getting kids interested in protecting their environment.

“Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.
Kenyan proverb

Earth Day activities for kids

Here are some quick ideas for celebrating Earth Day with your children:

  • Plant a tree
  • Go for a bike ride or a long walk (leave the car behind)
  • Hold a nature “scavenger hunt” (send the kids out into the garden or park in teams to collect – or spot – various items on a list you provide – we have some scavenger hunt printables you can use here!)
  • Print out some of our posters and place in strategic positions around the house. Talk about saving water when brushing teeth and saving energy by turning off the lights when you leave a room
  • Bake your favourite cookie or biscuit recipe and let the kids decorate with icing to look like the planet earth
  • Gather family and friends together and combine a picnic or other excursion with a litter clean-up
  • Set up a recycling centre in your home or school
  • Look through your shelves and find some books to give away via your local charity shop or library
  • Delve into your craft cupboard and tackle a recycling craft for fun!

Source: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/earth-day?awt_a=8YG5&awt_l=5S26Y&awt_m=IpVSHZyq2VDtG5

Anxiety when speaking in English

How to reduce anxiety when speaking English

A student looking worried

If you ever feel anxious about speaking English, here are some tips to help.

Do you ever feel scared or worried about speaking English? Perhaps you get sweaty hands or your heart starts beating fast. Those are signs that you might be feeling anxious. People often feel anxious about speaking in front of classmates, speaking to native speakers, making mistakes and various other things.

Anxiety is very common, but if the worries stop you from speaking, then you might miss opportunities to practise your English. You also can’t get much feedback on your speaking from the teacher or other people. Other people miss out on the chance to hear your ideas as well.

It takes time to overcome anxiety about speaking English, but it can be done! Here are some tips.

1. Set yourself a goal

Start small. Set a goal that is a bit challenging but achievable and not too scary. For example:

  • Say ‘How are you?’ to a classmate or an English-speaking friend.
  • Ask the teacher one question in your next class.

And here are some more challenging goals.

  • Chat with somebody for a few minutes.
  • Speak in front of an audience.
  • Speak on the phone.

Remember, the goal is not to do these things perfectly, it’s just to do them! Search for opportunities, and if you achieve your goal, that’s great! Increase the difficulty of your goals over time.

2. Think positively

Tell yourself positive things: I can do it. I’ve got this. It will be OK! Whether you are a beginner or an advanced-level speaker, thinking negatively will limit what you do. Thinking positively will help you to do your best and improve.

3. Face your fears (gently)

If you feel anxious, you may want to avoid speaking. It might be easier to do something totally different, such as reading or grammar exercises. However, avoiding the issue can just make it grow bigger and scarier. Don’t wait – start speaking little by little. It will be OK!

4. Look for a good partner

Try to find someone who you feel comfortable speaking with, perhaps somebody who is patient and kind and keen to speak English too. If you can practise speaking regularly, it should help to reduce anxious feelings.

5. Plan what to do in case of problems

We often worry about having problems like these and not knowing how to deal with them.

  • What if I forget a word?
  • What if my mind goes blank?
  • What if I don’t understand what the other person is saying?

By planning what you will do and say if these situations occur, you may feel less anxious. If you forget a word, for example, prepare some phrases such as I can’t remember the word. What I mean is … and then try to describe the word. You could perhaps use synonyms (It’s similar to …) or antonyms (It’s the opposite of …). Or if somebody says something you don’t understand, you can say Sorry, I didn’t get that or Sorry, could you say that again? Write these phrases in your notebook and practise them.

Communication is never 100 per cent smooth, not even for native speakers. Overcoming such problems is a very normal part of speaking.

6. Accept problems and mistakes

Learning a language is not easy, and you will definitely have problems and make mistakes along the way. Everybody does! But making a mistake can teach you a lot and help you to improve your skills. Remember that good speakers are not people who speak perfectly all the time. Instead, good speakers can solve communication problems when they occur. 

7. Note your progress

Over days and weeks, experiment with different ways to reduce and cope with anxiety, and keep notes of what works for you and what doesn’t. Note down your speaking goals too and tick them as you achieve them, so that you can see your progress and build up positive experiences of speaking.

8. Reward yourself

If you try hard and make progress but your reward is just to do more practice, it might not be very motivating. So, reward yourself with something nice like eating a chocolate, buying a new notebook, taking time off to relax or whatever makes you feel good. Reward yourself when you achieve a goal, overcome a problem, learn something important or do something challenging.

Source: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-levels/improve-your-english-level/how-reduce-anxiety-when-speaking-english?utm_campaign=english-all-learnenglish-global-newsletters&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=70305096&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_PGnZHq1Kh40PYLkh37EATnVQCYdzNIrJx6jv7I2XQRLT95u-K6EITEYtPmxIHJm5QVLiQYH4Veh3qAbtR95wLSgWzYw&utm_content=70305096&utm_source=hs_email

About the weather

Idioms related to the weather

Woman with a lot of work

If I tell you that I’m ‘snowed under’, what do you think I mean?

  1. I’m having problems with the winter weather.
  2. I’m very confused.
  3. I’ve got too much work to do.

What do you think? If you said c, that’s exactly right!

‘To be snowed under’ is an idiom – a group of words with a special meaning that is different from the meaning of each word on its own. 

There are lots of idioms in English related to weather. In this step you’ll find six useful ones that you hear and read quite often. 

Can you guess what the idioms in bold mean in each example? Then check the definitions below to see if you’re right.

He was on cloud nine when they offered him the job.
She gets up at 6 a.m., come rain or shine, and goes for her morning walk.
threw caution to the wind and followed them into the water.
The return trip was a breeze after the hard climb up the mountain.
They’re so positive and enthusiastic – it’s like a breath of fresh air working with them.
I’m totally snowed under at work this week.


to be on cloud nine

to be extremely happy about something

He was on cloud nine when they offered him the job.

come rain or shine

whatever happens; no matter what the situation is

She gets up at 6 a.m., come rain or shine, and goes for her morning walk.

to throw caution to the wind

to do something without worrying about the risks or problems it may cause

I threw caution to the wind and followed them into the water.

to be a breeze

to be easy, especially unexpectedly easy

The return trip was a breeze after the hard climb up the mountain.

a breath of fresh air

someone or something that is new and different and makes everything seem more exciting

They’re so positive and enthusiastic – it’s like a breath of fresh air working with them.

to be snowed under

to have too much to do

I’m totally snowed under at work this week.

You can use these idioms in informal communication to make your speaking and writing more interesting

Source: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/learning-hub/idioms-related-weather

Passover – Páscoa dos Judeus

The feast of Passover, one of the most important Jewish festivals, will next be celebrated by Jews all around the world from 5th to 13th April 2023. Known as Pesach in Hebrew, Passover has been celebrated since about 1300 BC, and families coming together, from great distances if necessary, to celebrate together. The celebration last for seven or eight days depending on where you live.

Passover Seder plate

The Story of Passover

The Book of Exodus in the Old Testament of the Bible tells the story of Passover. The people of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for over years. Although God promised he would release them from slavery, it seemed that the Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) had other ideas! When Moses was a very old man, he and his brother Aaron visited Pharaoh and demanded, in the name of God, that he let their people go. Pharaoh refused, claiming that he did not recognise God. Moses warned him that God would send ten plagues to Egypt to show his power.

  • First came the Plague of Blood. The River Nile was essential for Egyptian life, so when God turned the water of the River Nile, and all the water of Egypt, into blood, the fish and crops died and the Egyptian people suffered terribly.
  • Second came the Plague of Frogs: Can you imagine if everything was covered in frogs? It sounds funny but I expect it wasn’t very nice! We have a Plague of Frogs colouring page, below.
  • After the frogs, came the the third plague, the Plague of Lice. Everything and everyone was covered in creepy crawly itchy lice.
  • Fourth came the Plague of Flies. Flies swarmed into Egypt in huge numbers and got everywhere!
  • After the flies came the fifth plague, the Plague on Livestock. All of Egypt’s animals – horses, donkeys, camels, cows, sheep and goats – died. Egyptians began to be very hungry.
  • Next God sent a Plague of Boils. Boils are very painful infected spots, and the people of Egypt and all their livestock were covered with them.
  • Can you imagine things getting worse? After the boils came the seventh plague, the Plague of Hail, with a huge hailstorm which flattened down any surviving crops. The hail stones were so big that they killed people and animals!
  • Eighth came the Plague of Locusts. Locusts swarmed into Egypt and munched up any crops which were still standing, leaving nothing behind them.
  • After that, for the ninth plague, the people of Egypt were terrified by the Plague of Darkness. The sun disappeared and for three full days Egypt went dark.

All these plagues affected only the Egyptians. God protected Moses’ people and the Israelites were unaffected. Pharaoh, however, still refused to budge, so God sent his final, terrible plague:

  • The Tenth Plague – the Plague on the First-born. God told Moses that one of his angels would go from house to house and kill every Egyptian first-born son! To save Israelite children from the same fate, Moses should tell his people to follow some very specific instructions: to kill a lamb and use its blood to make a mark on their doors, then to roast and eat the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened (flat) bread, while dressed for a journey.

Sure enough, at midnight the angel went through Egypt and every first born son was struck down, including Pharaoh’s son. The Israelite households were passed over (which is where the name of this holiday comes from). The people of Egypt were terrified and called on Pharaoh to banish the people of Israel right away, which he did. In fact, the Israelites left in such a hurry that there wasn’t time for their bread dough to rise, which is why no risen (leavened) bread is eaten during Passover now. Moses led the people out of Egypt.

Source: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/passover

Learning tip: Read and relax!

If you have some free time over the holidays, reading stories is an excellent way to practice and improve your English. Stories aren’t just fun to read. They also contain a wide range of language, including words, structures, styles and meanings that you may not find in other reading texts.

Bellow you can find links with some stories that were written especially for learners at different levels. Here’s some advice:

  • Don’t choose a story that is too difficult. If it’s difficult, you’ll feel confused.
  • Don’t check the dictionary a lot. It slows down your reading and makes it hard to enjoy.
  • Choose a story with some words that are new for you but whose words you mostly understand. That will allow you to enjoy the story more and also improve your reading speed.

Enjoy your reading time!



Source: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/story-zone?utm_campaign=english-all-learnenglish-global-newsletters&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=66874876&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8ej0mVCw1DFzWnvq2a0ANLaTk6fQ8kjssH8b1ykyQyCn_WtiB5ReX5kAZD0HqvK5cnesSaXjKkckCtwKEpikT7nno5hQ&utm_content=66874876&utm_source=hs_email

The origins of English

The story of the English language began in the fifth century when Germanic tribes invaded Celtic-speaking Britain and brought their languages with them. Later, Scandinavian Vikings invaded and settled with their languages too. In 1066 William I, from modern-day France, became king, and Norman-French became the language of the courts and official activity. People couldn’t understand each other at first, because the lower classes continued to use English while the upper classes spoke French, but gradually French began to influence English. An estimated 45 per cent of all English words have a French origin. By Shakespeare’s time, Modern English had developed, printing had been invented and people had to start to agree on ‘correct’ spelling and vocabulary.

Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/englishlanguageday/

Task 1: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/magazine-zone/english-language-day?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=english-adults-leweb-global-global-2022-04-le-newsletter#

Task 2 : https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/magazine-zone/english-language-day?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=english-adults-leweb-global-global-2022-04-le-newsletter#